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Congestion corridor

Congestion corridor

Upgrades under way on Memorial, 101st St.
By P.J. LASSEK World Staff Writer

The street improvements are an effort to ensure that the future SuperTarget at 101st Street doesn't turn a currently congested area into a "traffic nightmare," said City Councilor Bill Christiansen.

The councilor, who has been an advocate for south Tulsa street widening projects, said Memorial Drive south of the Creek Turnpike is set to become a commercial corridor rivaling 71st Street.

"A lot of new development is taking place here and it is imperative that city streets are prepared to handle all of the additional traffic," said Christiansen, whose district includes the area.

Instead of waiting to address traffic congestion issues after the fact, Christiansen said the city promised area residents, who raised concerns, that the streets would be widened first.

The improvement project is an effort by the city, county and state and is expected to be complete by the end of fall, said Paul Zachary, Public Works Department deputy director of engineering.

The 21-acre South Town Market, where the SuperTarget will be located, is on the northeast corner of the Memorial Drive and 101st Street intersection. Target officials expect to open the store in October.

While the SuperTarget is the anchor for the development, it is expected to include retail businesses and restaurants, officials said.

Because the area borders Bixby, Tulsa is providing the needed water line, sewer and stormwater improvements along with supplying the road materials, while the county will provide labor for the actual street work, Zachary said.

Tulsa is using $3 million from an economic development fund in its 2006 third-penny program to widen 101st Street from two lanes to five lanes between 84th East Avenue and about 500 feet west of the intersection with Memorial Drive, Zachary said.

That section of 101st Street has about 16,300 cars traveling it each day, but has a current capacity of 11,900, he said. That portion of the street widening is slated to be complete by late July or August, Zachary said.

Christiansen said another key element to ensuring the best flow of traffic through the area is the synchronization of the traffic signals.

The city's economic development fund money will pay for a traffic signal at 99th Street and Memorial Drive, to ease the flow in and out of the SuperTarget center's parking lot.

Tulsa is also adding a signal at 98th Street and Memorial Drive at a cost of $150,000, which Zachary said would come out of the city's traffic engineering budget.

Memorial Drive will have a total of five traffic signals between 91st and 101st streets, not counting the major intersections.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is spending $2.8 million to widen Memorial Drive, a designated highway, to six lanes from 96th to 111th streets, the department's spokeswoman Kenna Mitchell said.

Zachary said Memorial Drive would expand inward, consuming the grass median, and include sidewalks on both sides.

The traffic volume on that stretch of Memorial Drive is about 42,500 vehicles a day, but it has a current capacity of 26,000.

The projected completion date is sometime in September.

Christiansen said the city needs to consider widening 101st Street all the way to Sheridan Road and to repair the Fry Creek Bridge, which because of deterioration has weight limit issues.

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